Year in Review: A beacon of debate

Published: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 09:49 AM.

Based on reader response and interest, no story stirred more pointed debate than the proposed relocation of the Cape San Blas Lighthouse.

One year after the city of Port St. Joe was awarded deed to the lighthouse and ancillary buildings by the federal government, a year into a Save the Cape San Blas Lighthouse fundraising campaign, six months after the Florida Legislature bequeathed the city over $300,000 for the effort, not much has changed.

Save the shoreline, the steady disappearance of which began this saga.

By year’s end, city commissioners were awaiting a new round of bids, after tossing initial bids, for a phased approach to taking down the lighthouse and moving it into the city – while facing a mid-January deadline on the second extension the feds provided to move the complex.

The plans brought by the Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency for a new Bay Park, the centerpiece of which would be the lighthouse, were put on the backburner after the plans became a flashpoint in the broader lighthouse debate.

And a group dedicated to keeping the lighthouse on the cape through relocation to Salinas Park were lobbying the Board of County Commissioners to re-engage and provide a lifeline to Port St. Joe officials should they choose to walk away.

The machinations took place against a background of spirited debate on how the lighthouse should be saved – by becoming a draw for tourists or as a historical relic which has watched over the cape for nearly two centuries.

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